A to­bacco gi­ant’s sur­pris­ing call

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - MARCELO NICO Nico is MD of Philip Mor­ris South Africa

T here is a sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity in South Africa right now to cre­ate a smoke-free so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing smoke-free al­ter­na­tives to cig­a­rettes. This year, al­ter­na­tives to cig­a­rettes were in­tro­duced to the South African mar­ket, al­low­ing adult smok­ers to switch to sci­en­tif­i­cally sub­stan­ti­ated smoke-free prod­ucts as soon as pos­si­ble.

We are con­vinced that smoke-free prod­ucts have the po­ten­tial to present less risk of harm than con­tin­ued smok­ing. We be­lieve that prod­ucts like these will one day re­place cig­a­rettes al­to­gether.

Cig­a­rettes are a dan­ger­ous prod­uct, and it is well known that the best way to avoid the dan­gers of smok­ing is never to start, or to quit.

Nev­er­the­less, based on the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s pre­dic­tions, there will be more than one bil­lion smok­ers by 2025. There­fore, al­ter­na­tive prod­ucts that have the po­ten­tial to sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the risk of dis­ease com­pared with smok­ing cig­a­rettes are a fun­da­men­tal com­ple­ment to the reg­u­la­tory ef­forts aimed at re­duc­ing smok­ing preva­lence.

Ex­perts agree that nico­tine, while ad­dic­tive, is not the pri­mary cause of smok­ing-re­lated dis­eases.

The mil­lions of men and women who smoke cig­a­rettes are look­ing for less harm­ful, yet sat­is­fy­ing, al­ter­na­tives to smok­ing.

Peo­ple who smoke cig­a­rettes for the ef­fects of in­hal­ing nico­tine ex­pose them­selves to the harm­ful chem­i­cals in smoke when to­bacco is burnt.

Our ap­proach is based on the ac­knowl­edge­ment that in­no­va­tive prod­ucts will ben­e­fit pub­lic health if they meet two con­di­tions: first, they must sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the risk of dis­ease com­pared with cig­a­rettes; and sec­ond, they must be ac­cept­able enough to smok­ers to en­cour­age them to switch. The lit end of a cig­a­rette can reach tem­per­a­tures of up to 900°C. This high tem­per­a­ture causes a large num­ber of chem­i­cal re­ac­tions to take place, break­ing down the to­bacco into thou­sands of chem­i­cals that ap­pear in cig­a­rette smoke, many of them harm­ful.

New prod­ucts in­clude one that heats to­bacco to tem­per­a­tures of around 300°C, cre­at­ing an aerosol and not smoke, which both min­imises the for­ma­tion of harm­ful and po­ten­tially harm­ful sub­stances (on av­er­age 90-95% re­duc­tion) and max­imises the like­li­hood of ac­cep­tance by smok­ers in de­liv­er­ing sim­i­lar lev­els of nico­tine as a cig­a­rette as well as the nat­u­ral to­bacco flavours.

At this lower tem­per­a­ture many of the chem­i­cal re­ac­tions as­so­ci­ated with com­bus­tion do not take place. Al­ready three mil­lion peo­ple have quit smok­ing and switched to IQOS [a Philip Mor­ris prod­uct], which is now avail­able in 25 coun­tries.

Cre­at­ing a smoke-free South Africa is a mam­moth task as the coun­try has more than seven mil­lion smok­ers.

Con­se­quently, all stake­hold­ers in the in­dus­try have a crit­i­cal role to play and the adop­tion of sound reg­u­la­tions that can sig­nif­i­cantly help con­sumers ac­cel­er­ate switch­ing from cig­a­rettes to less harm­ful al­ter­na­tive prod­ucts is an es­sen­tial com­po­nent of a smoke-free vi­sion, so the grow­ing num­ber of ex­perts and gov­ern­ments that are tak­ing steps to sup­port the role that sci­ence and in­no­va­tion can play in pub­lic health is en­cour­ag­ing.

We recog­nise that our sci­en­tific work must also be as­sessed by in­de­pen­dent ex­perts. We wel­come such re­view and are shar­ing our sci­en­tific data for in­de­pen­dent ver­i­fi­ca­tion with qual­i­fied third par­ties.

The US Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion re­cently an­nounced a new plan that places nico­tine, and the is­sue of ad­dic­tion, at the cen­tre of the agency’s to­bacco reg­u­la­tion ef­forts.

This is in con­trast to past ef­forts to re­duce smok­ing that fo­cused on to­bacco as the main target for con­trol.

In De­cem­ber 2016, a mod­i­fied risk to­bacco prod­uct ap­pli­ca­tion was filed to the FDA that is cur­rently be­ing re­viewed.

The UK Depart­ment of Health has also re­cently is­sued a new to­bacco con­trol plan, recog­nis­ing the pos­i­tive role of in­no­va­tion and tech­nolo­gies such as e-cig­a­rettes in a smoke-free fu­ture.

South African health pol­icy spe­cial­ists are at the fore­front of in­no­va­tion glob­ally. This pro­vides us with a unique op­por­tu­nity to craft a his­toric reg­u­la­tory frame­work for the coun­try, and in­deed Africa, that recog­nises the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits of smoke-free prod­ucts.

In pur­su­ing our vi­sion of re­duced-risk prod­ucts, we are ea­ger to see mea­sures in­tro­duced that drive large-scale switch­ing as quickly as pos­si­ble.

We are con­fi­dent that the right mix of govern­ment lead­er­ship and com­mer­cial ini­tia­tive will dra­mat­i­cally ac­cel­er­ate ef­forts to re­duce the health bur­den of smok­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.